Australia is the world’s largest island, and so it is no surprise that some 40 million shipping boxes arrive at Australian ports every year. The ports can be dangerous and hazardous places for employees and so it’s important to be aware of the common hazards associated with goods unpacking and the port environment.
Read on below to find out what you should be aware of when it comes to port hazards and work health and safety requirements.
The most common hazards
Container unloading can be a dangerous undertaking, there are many hazards associated with working around them and in Australia’s ports and it is important to be aware of some of the common hazards that employees encounter when working with them.
The most common issues to experience when container unloading are;
Poor placement for container unloading
One of the most common issues on any work site is when the portable boxes have not been placed correctly or have been place in an unsafe area. Areas with high foot traffic, pedestrians, power lines or other potential hazards should be avoided.
A common issue is when items inside the receptacle are not properly secure. During the container unloading process people might be at risk of being hit and injured by falling items. Items are usually transported over long distances so it is common for them to shift even when secure, that is why it is important that great care is taken when opening and inspecting the boxes before items are unpacked from within.
Slipping, tripping or falling
When unloading containers workers should be aware that they are a slip hazard. It is common for the inside of the container to become slippery and wet during the transport process as they are rarely completely airtight and have usually traveled long distances across the sea.
A common hazard that workers experience is dangerous slips and falls inside of the receptacle which can result in injuries or falling materials from inside.
It is important for employees to wear the appropriate personal protective gear, such as boots and helmets to protect themselves from potential harm.
The fumigation process and dangerous substances
A requirement of all incoming goods being imported into Australia is that they undergo fumigation to protect Australia from foreign insects and diseases which might threaten our delicate and unique ecosystem.
Whilst proper fumigation is necessary in Australia during container unloading, it does put workers at significant risk. Chemicals such as methyl bromide and formaldehyde pose a serious health risk to workers , although they are necessary for shipping processes, great care must be taken to protect employees.
Methyl bromide is colourless, odorless and high dangerous. If inhaled it can impact the central nervous systems of humans and kill them. It is suspected of causing genetic birth defects.
Formaldehyde has been attributed to causing headaches, dizziness and skin conditions such a dermatitis.
The proper precautions must be taken when working around boxes loaded with goods, to prevent people from coming into contact with these chemicals. Often minimum periods must be observed before people are allowed to enter the receptacles and the proper protective gear must be work to avoid accidental contact.
Work health and safety requirements for container unloading in Australia
There are a number of important work health and safety requirements that businesses and employees must keep in mind when working around stacked receptacles.
Ports can be high risk environments so every employee must undergo the correct training and inductions. There are a lot of procedures that must be followed and equipment required for the job.
Workpro or other state based advisors can give up to date information on the inductions required.